We finally made the trek out to Asia-Pacific International University in Mauklek. To get to APIU, you must find your way to Victory Monument (very easy by using the BTS railway system.) Then you must find a van that will drive you to Mauklek. This is easier said than done. When we had asked people where those vans were located, we were told, “It’s on the left-side.”
Victory Monument stands within a huge roundabout.
Bjorn and I started with the street on our immediate left and began to work our way clockwise around the giant circle. We went down side streets yelling “Mauklek?” at anyone who leaned against a van/stood near a van/looked like they might be thinking about a van. (Pro tip: It’s pronounced Mo-kleck, as we soon found out after saying Moke-leck to many a confused van driver).
They all kept pointing to their right (although some did a confusing snake-like move with their hands) and we inched our way around. Finally, we found a bunch of vans underneath an overpass. (From the BTS Victory Monument exit, it’s in the 10 o’clock direction).
We approached a van driver, who smiled and nodded enthusiastically when we said, “Mauklek?” Just as we were about to get into the van behind him, he hurried off to talk to another person, who then hurriedly led us to another area. (As you can imagine, this was not quite reassuring.)
We quick-stepped it behind him, thinking we were late. But no, all the hurry was to reach a bench so we could wait on it for 30 minutes. After that amount of time, we were led onto a van — where we had to wait another half and hour (but at least this time it was in air-conditioned comfort). After about a 2-1/2 hour drive, we finally (FINALLY) arrived at APIU.
APIU, known also as Mission (pronounced mih-chun; no seriously, you have to say it that way to the driver) College, is an Adventist school. Now if you know anything about Adventists, there’s about 4 degrees of separation between any of them. But if you’re with Bjorn, narrow that down to 1.5. If you’re with Bjorn on an Adventist university campus, it’s 0.485 (more or less).
As soon as we stepped through the doors of the cafeteria, we were hailed by the L’s, who are the parents of one of Bjorn’s college friends. No sooner had we sat down to lunch with them and Mrs. H, who is his sister’s mother-in-law and happened to be in Thailand teaching a special course that week, when we were greeted by our friend D.B, whom Bjorn first befriended in Bangkok.
Conversations loud and friendly were shooting off in all directions as connections among the group were traced, double backed on, crisscrossed and looped (everyone knew each other somehow, of course). Before our lunch ended, we chanced upon Bjorn’s boss from waaaaaay back in the day when he worked at a radio station in England (he, too, was in town for a special course). Then we said hello to the F’s, parents of our friend L, whom Bjorn had first met as a child in the Philippines.
I don’t know why I still get surprised. Just last week we ran into people that Bjorn knew from his early-childhood stint in Hong Kong. We found our apartment in Bangkok through his childhood friends from the Philippines.
I love it. I love that Bjorn has ties to such a broad, international community by virtue of his upbringing in different countries (the fact that he’s super-friendly and outgoing, or that his parent are well-regarded and some of the kindest people I know probably doesn’t hurt, too). Without fail, the people I have met with diverse international service experiences have been genuinely warm, friendly and generous. More than ever, I hope to provide the same kind of nurturing, global experience for our future fat ones (aka children). Here’s to third-culture kids!